Lessons Learned- Trip to Crete, Greece

When I was extremely sick with chronic Lyme disease, one of my most debilitating symptoms was environmental and food sensitivities. I could spot a mold problem long before any diagnostic test. Cleaning products with ammonia or bleach would trigger a severe asthma attack within minutes. Toxic, non-moving air in closed hotel rooms would keep me up all night with an overwhelmed liver. It was very hard for me to eat out in restaurants. Ingesting conventional animal products would cause me to vomit within the hour. Glyphosate laden wheat products would cause diarrhea and an inability to properly digest food for a week. For these reasons, I developed an intense fear to traveling and eating out. I could recover from symptoms when I had my clean “safe space” of a home and home cooked meals. Traveling became panic inducing and out of the question for a couple of years.

3 years, 32 liver flushes, hundreds of coffee enemas, and an impeccable plant based diet later, my health had vastly improved and my husband and I planned our first trip as a family to Crete, Greece where much of his extended family resides. Oddly enough, I had no anxiety or fears traveling across the world with a toddler to stay on an island for two and a half weeks. I was not concerned about our living arrangements, as staying in someone’s home with good air flow is enough to get a good night’s rest. I was not concerned about the food, because the Mediterranean diet is put on a pedestal in the health world. I was excited to dive into the mineral rich, tasty produce. I was not afraid of any hiccups or issues that may arise, because we were going to be with lots of family who has our best interest in mind and willing to help resolve any issues that may arise.

Lesson #1

When you let others cook or prepare food for you, you risk acute illness and disease.

Right after we arrived at the airport in Crete, we were expected to go straight to my husband’s grandmother’s house to meet the relatives and eat a meal. Even though I wanted to go straight to where we were staying and rest, I obliged as this was a new culture and felt it best to go with the flow. I quickly learned that the familial expectation was to eat lunch together everyday that had been prepared by an aunt or grandmother. I felt uneasy as I am used to preparing everything my toddler and I ingest. I obliged with this expectation for several days. I felt “off” during this time and was quick to blame any malaise on jet lag and being introduced to a new microbiome. It wasn’t until my baby, Athena, was vomiting for the second day, I was extremely nauseous with stomach cramps, and my husband felt digestive discomfort, that I decided to say enough was enough. I was no longer willing to let someone else prepare food for me. Soon there after, everyone recovered and we were finally able to enjoy our stay.

Lesson #2

There is junk food everywhere. Living a healthy lifestyle is now a choice, even in the Mediterranean.

The food we were ingesting that made us ill was still plant based and gluten free. When someone else prepares food there is risk for poor quality ingredients, rancid ingredients, poor preparation methods, and additional unwanted ingredients. Even though some of the dishes were similar to what I prepare at home, we were exposed to refined sea salt that contain anti-caking agents (hello aluminum), rancid olive oil in large quantities, and refined sugar. For example, we were given what they call “Greek candy”. I was told it consisted of roasted sesame seeds and raw honey. Later I found out that they add brown sugar and “fructose”, heavily refined sugar derived from fruit, to bind the bar together. My family has not ingested refined sugar in months, so it reeked havoc on our systems.

Lesson #3

The Mediterranean has Westernized.

I was sitting in the Venetian port when I opened my first restaurant menu. I could not believe what they were selling: hamburgers, ice scream, soda, and most dishes containing some sort of animal product. This was surprising to me, because Greeks are known for eating animal products sparingly. Their cuisine is typically vegetarian unless there is a holiday or special occasion. This menu was something I would find at a restaurant in America that I would never chose to visit. The disease inducing food we frequently see in restaurants in America is also widely available in Crete. As a consequence, the health of their population is quickly deteriorating. Although their rates of obesity are lower, a visit to the beaches will prove that most people are now overweight and carrying excess fat around their mid section. Beautiful healthy bodies of a healthy weight are becoming the exception when just a few decades ago they were the standard.

Lesson #4

When the land offers you an abundance of fruit, simplify your diet and life by eating mono fruit meals for optimal hydration and health.

As soon as we started sourcing and preparing our own food, we found an abundance of fresh fruit at produce stands across the city. It is near impossible to find seeded watermelon in Boston, so we were stoked to dive into copious amounts of watermelon. We decided to start each morning with a watermelon cleanse. We cut a large watermelon in half and ate straight from the bowl until we couldn’t eat anymore. Our kidneys would feel slightly overwhelmed when we hit our limit, so we would lie down until it passed. This type of breakfast hydrated us for the whole day, prevented our skin from burning, and has had lasting effects boosting our kidney health. We snacked on mono fruit meals of sweet doughnut peaches, cucumber, tomato, nectarines, and fresh squeezed orange juice. When fruit is allowed to fully ripen on the tree and be eating soon thereafter, the flavor is so rich that there is no need or desire to add anything extra.


Lesson #5

Your health is more important than any societal expectation.

In most culture, the food traditions are an integral part of social experiences. People want to cook for you as an act of love. People want to dine together and discuss the cuisine. There are expectations to eat together from similar dishes. These traditions are worthless if and when they lead to disease and a decrease in vitality. Each individual is solely responsible for what they put in their own mouths. While awkward and uncomfortable, I no longer hesitate to bring my own food to social gatherings and refusing to eat anything that I know will not nourish my body and lead to a greater state of vitality. It is a form of self-love and self-respect to choose to ingest only what properly nourishes your body.

Lesson #6

Traveling Abroad can create an increased need for breastfeeding a toddler.

Before our trip, I was nursing Athena in the morning, once or twice during the day, and at night. I was finally able to leave her for an extended period during the day without having to worry about nursing her. I have been delaying weaning, as I knew it would be very helpful to breastfeed during our international flight. I was surprised by how often and how much Athena wanted to nurse abroad. We went from almost weaning to a breastfeeding relationship reminiscent of that with a 3-month-old infant. She was attached to my boobs night and day. After the rough adjustment to Greek cuisine, she became very picky about what and how much she would eat. She rarely drank water, so she nursed for food, hydration, comfort, and security. It was a very difficult stress on my body, but I was grateful for the ability to nurse her on demand to smooth over any difficulties while traveling with a toddler.


In conclusion, my trip taught me very important life lessons and help to solidify much of the health and wellness wisdom I have gained over the past few years. The food that we eat lays the foundation for the state of our health and wellness. It is an individual responsibility to take care of our bodies and fuel our bodies with nourishing food to the best of our ability and knowledge. It is time to create new recipes and new traditions that will lay the foundation for healthy individuals and therefore healthy populations.

Healing Crisis During Ovulation

This is a story of my experience with a recent healing crisis. I’m sifting through the progression of events to further understand my body, my cycle, and its healing mechanisms. My hope is that by sharing this story others may develop a deeper understanding of their own healing mechanisms.

A healthy body is responsive and adaptive. A healthy body will experience discomfort and a range of sensations, energy levels, and nutrition needs. This has been a very important revelation for me. As an athlete and a singer growing up in a man’s world, I was taught I had to be linear and ‘consistent’ to be successful. I interpreted this as sticking to a strict training regime and never falling ill to prevent sub optimal performance. I pushed myself until my body could no longer be pushed. I’ve spent a lot of time resting and healing over the past couple of years. The problem with the linear approach is that women are not linear; by nature women are cyclical, or even spiral. Becoming a mother has taught me very important lessons, one of which is understanding my moon cycle.

Pre-pregnancy, I intuitively knew that I was infertile. Many women who have Lyme disease struggle with fertility issues. In fact when I first hear my Lyme diagnosis, I cried for hours mourning the children I never had. In that moment, I knew I wanted to be a mother, but had to face the very real possibility that my body was not healthy enough to grow and sustain another life. I had signs of endometriosis. I had severe nutrition deficiencies. I had low estrogen. And I had issues with the left side of my pelvic region. I was too scared to be told I was infertile, so I never got tested. My hope was that if I figured out my other health issues, then my fertility issues would also resolve on their own.

Six months after beginning liver flushes, I became pregnant with my rainbow child. My menstrual cycle returned four months postpartum. This has been an interesting journey breastfeeding and menstruating simultaneously. Both require a great amount of energy, nutrition, and rest. At these times, women need to go inward, listen, and respect the ever changing needs of her body.

In January, I had a very difficult mid cycle experience. I suspect that I was dealing with an ovarian cyst that had burst. After a week or so the symptoms resolved. I used yoga to rehabilitate my pelvic and core regions, and soon felt as good as new.

In February, I had no mid cycle discomfort. I had mild emotional PMS, the shortest cycle of my life (22 days), and the heaviest menstruation, which ironically fell on Athena’s birthday party. At the one year mark postpartum, the heavy bleeding reminded me of the intense bleeding following childbirth. I embraced this by wearing a red dress for the birthday party to celebrate my fertility. The sensations I felt indicated that I ovulated from my right ovary in February.

In March, I was feeling amazing from day three to nine of my cycle. I went on a few runs. Felt strong with my energy flowing well. I didn’t have any excess tension. My mind was sharp. My mood was optimistic. I was happy to be alive in this body. There was a moment when I reminisced on how much pain I used to be in and how I no longer felt that pain. Then on day ten of my cycle, I began feeling abdominal and muscle cramping. Tension creeped into all of my muscles. My lymph nodes became swollen and sore. My spleen felt tender and overwhelmed. My stomach became nauseous. My digestive fire diminished. I felt extremely fatigued to the point of adrenal exhaustion. I felt a need to rest in bed as much as possible. If I was laying still, then I felt okay. The more I moved physically, the worse I felt. Movement triggered hot flashes and muscles to freeze up mid motion.

If you look at a hormone chart for menstruation, you will see that the body increases its production of estrogen, LH, and FSH in the few days leading up to ovulation. Since my body is constantly production prolactin for breastmilk, I figured my adrenals were struggling to keep up with total hormone production. Prolactin keeps estrogen levels low, so that partially explains the hot flashes. I took note to rest more and eat foods high in fat and vitamin c to assist hormone production.

On day twelve of my menstrual cycle, I hit total adrenal exhaustion. I could not handle stress or physical activity. I was too tired to pick up my baby girl. I could feel EBV taking over my whole body. A few years ago, I was unable to function for a few months as I struggled with mono. I know this sensation well. I felt tenderness and inflammation in my lower legs, all of my lymph nodes, shoulders, neck, spleen, stomach, and brain along with total exhaustion. My illness lead to vomiting up leftovers from the night before. I had not felt that experience since the year I developed food sensitivities when I was still eating conventional animal products, gluten, and processed food. Since my diet changes, I rarely vomit, not even during pregnancy.

When the muscle tension and inflammation started, I did yoga to keep my energy flowing, but found myself intolerant to light exercise. When the abdominal cramping became intense, I drank a dose of Epsom salt just in case I was experiencing gallbladder issues. Next, I did a coffee enema to help reduce inflammation. After the enema, I passed foam cholesterol crystals from my bile ducts. This helped reduce symptoms temporarily, but was not a solution to my problem. Next, I took an Epsom salt bath to support my lymph system. This helped temporarily, but the muscle tension creeped right back in. I stretched several times a day and rolled my back out with a tennis ball as a deep, painful massage. My husband also gave me a deep massage, but the tension came back immediately. As my usual troubleshooting methods were not successfully reliving discomfort, I realized that I was amidst an intense healing crisis. I was not muscle testing well to nutrient dense foods or responding well to detox protocols. My body had all of the energy and nutrition it needed to heal whatever it needed heal. All I needed was rest, hydration with coconut water, and time to heal.

On day twelve of my cycle, I woke up with the entire left side of my body sore. It felt as though I had over exercised and injured the left side of my pelvis. All of the discomfort was stemming from my left ovary and my endocrine system. I suspect that the discomfort is a result of my body attempting to heal my left ovary and restore fertility completely. My bones, ligaments, tendons, and joints ached terribly especially in my pelvis, shoulders, and ankles. I felt pain and weakness in a particular part of my pelvis that I had felt trauma during childbirth.

On day thirteen of my cycle, I woke up with residual tension, but the adrenal exhaustion was gone. Even though I felt crappy, I was able to accomplish running errands, going for a long walk, watching an active toddler, cooking homemade meals, and washing and folding five loads of laundry. I could tell the worst of the healing crisis was over. It is likely that I had successfully ovulated on this day and my hormones levels were dropping. I ended the productive day with an Epsom salt bath to help drain the toxins from my lymph system. I stretched and fell asleep.

On day fourteen of my cycle, I woke up feeling good. There is a little residual tension in my shoulders, but my stiff neck and cramping is gone. My energy is back, and I’m feeling better than ever. My left hip feels weak, but with a few days of yoga the strength will return.

What is amazing to me is that pre-liver flush, EBV could take over my life for weeks at a time. Now, it takes over for two days and then disappears. This healing crisis obviously correlates to the hormones produced during ovulation. Perhaps ovulation is a time for deep healing and menstruation is a time for deep cleansing.

As I reflect on my experience, I can see that this was not only a healing crisis, but also a time of retracing. According to Dr. Lawrence Wilson, “Retracing is a specific type of deep healing that fully restores the anatomy and physiology of a part of the body.” I encourage everyone who is embarking on a health journey to read his article on retracing: http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/retracing.htm. Understanding the principles of healing crisis and retracing will ignite a deeper understanding of your own healing mechanisms and reduce fear of illness in times of discomfort.

How did I know that I was retracing and going through a healing crisis?

  • The tissues that became inflamed had been stressed and traumatized during pregnancy and childbirth. The tendons, ligaments, bones, and spine are some of the last tissues to heal completely. The spine fully heals around one year postpartum.
  • My energy levels were very high right before the healing crisis, which is an indication of a vitality high enough to tackle deep healing. My recent diet and lifestyle included high amounts of vitamin c and vitamin d, which are necessary to repair the inflamed tissues.
  • I was reliving old trauma sensations. I had flashbacks of when I had previously felt that type of pain and discomfort. When I acknowledged the sensations as a healing crisis, then the symptoms began to diminish.
  • None of my detox methods stopped the discomfort. The body will not begin retracing unless it can completely heal the deep trauma. This means you have to ride the wave of discomfort and not interfere or suppress symptoms.
  • Food with dense nutrients muscle tested as weakening to the chi of my body. When you experience a healing reaction, excess nutrition will send the body into a more intense state of healing, which decreases vitality.
  • My symptoms were short-lived. A healing crisis will last from a couple of hours to a couple of day. If symptoms persist longer, then you are experiencing illness and not a healing crisis.
  • My vitality has returned to a greater capacity after the healing crisis.

I’m curious to see what happens mid cycle in May. When there is a deep trauma, the body may need to retrace through several flare-ups before the body can be whole. For now I’m grateful to have a support system that allows me to rest during healing crises and the bravery to tackle a roller coaster of sensation head on without symptom suppression.

“Every woman who heals herself helps heal all the women who came before her, and all those who come after” – Christiane Northrup.